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Criminal Appellate & Post-Conviction Services

Michigan Supreme Court Grants Leave on Carp and Eliason and J-LWOP

The Michigan Supreme Court just granted permission to appeal on People v Carp and People v Eliason. These cases deal with the retroactivity of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v Alabama (Carp); and the appropriate remedy should be for these individuals (Eliason). The Court has also agreed to hear a third case where the question is whether a juvenile convicted of aiding and abetting first degree murder can potentially receive a natural life sentence or whether Graham v Florida bars this. I will post an update to this with links to the various orders in the near future. In the mean time, here is a good link from M-Live.

Interesting Miller Developments in Massachusetts

Professor Berman has an interesting article on his blog about how Massachusetts is planning on dealing with the Miller problem. Under the bill, they will extend juvenile court jurisdiction to age eighteen. The juvenile court could sentence a defendant into adult court or even give him/her natural life, but the assumption is that the juvenile court would have better experience how to deal with a juvenile.

Illinois Court of Appeals Says Miller is Retroactive

The Illinois Court of Appeals just issued a 29 page opinion saying that Miller v Alabama is fully retroactive. This directly conflicts with the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling from two weeks ago to the contrary in People v Carp. The Court said that the ruling was a watershed ruling.
Williams - Miller retroactivty

Pennsylvania Governor Signs Senate Bill into Law

On Friday, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that individuals have the right to “open carry” a firearm to a public library. The ruling and various reference links are available under my extended analysis which you can see by clicking the “read more” link below. Read More...

Pennsylvania Legislature Passes Miller Fix - Updated

According to this AP article, the Pennsylvania Legislature has just passed this Miller fix. Pennsylvania Senate Bill 850. For first degree murder, 15-17 year olds would get either a mandatory 35 years to life sentence or a LWOP sentence; those under 15 years old would get either a mandatory 25 years to life or LWOP sentence. For second degree murder, 15-17 year olds would get a mandatory 30 years to life sentence; those under 15 would get 20 years to life sentence. Here is another interesting summary. Here is a link to the official history on the bill. Here is a link to the Senate Fiscal analysis.It is important to stress that higher sentences are possible and it is possible for a judge to still impose a non-parolable life sentences (for first degree murder defendants only) based on a specific finding of facts.

Pennsylvania has three degrees of murder. Murder in the first degree carried natural life or the death penalty. Second degree murder carried a mandatory life without the possibility of parole. Third degree murder is subject to sentencing under Pennsylvania’s Sentencing Guidelines. Pennsylvania Attorney David Lampman has a
nice summary of Pennsylvania’s homicide laws.

Update: I just found out that the Pennsylvania Coalition for Fair Sentencing of Youth and its parent national organization have serious problems with this law. They consider the bill a hasty piece of legislation that has been rushed through. Pennsylvania Governor Corbetthas until October 27th to sign or veto the bill. Under Pennsylvania law, the Governor could also line-item veto the JLWOP provisions from the legislation. Stay tuned.

The law is not retroactive to cases that were finalized before the date that Miller was decided (June 24, 2012).

Miller v Alabama Developments - Updated and Remixed

This is an update and consolidation of several Miller stories posted over the last several days. Last June the United States Supreme Court struck down a mandatory life without a parole sentence given to juveniles who kill. Michigan is the state with second largest group of juveniles serving these JLWOP (“juvenile life without parole”) sentences; Pennsylvania will be the first comprehensive decision. Florida has ruled that Miller is not retroactive in an unpublished decision where the defendant didn’t have counsel and missed key arguments. Louisiana has ruled that Miller is retroactive, but they did so in a summary order without much reasoning. We will be arguing later today that Miller is retroactive in what should be the second comprehensive decision. Read More...

Mich Legislature Considers New Juvenile Expungment Bill

The Michigan House has before it House Bill 5600 which will liberalize the standards for granting expungments for juveniles. The Bill will expand the number of adjudications they can have and remove some of the statutory prohibitions on expungment. This a great thing. As we learn more about the juvenile brain, it is clear that they are not mini-adults and are capable of change. As colleges and other institutions have started background checking applicants, our old path was forcing juveniles down the wrong path and towards a “cliff.” HB5600 goes a long way to fixing this problem. Here is a link to our current expungment law.

CoA to Hear Miller Retroactivity Case

In People v Carp, the Michigan Court of Appeals agreed to hear whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v Alabama is retroactive. Miller struck down mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder. Previously, the Court struck down the same punishment as applied to non-murderers.The Court said that life without should rarely be given. One of the two cases that the Court heard was from Arkansas and called Jackson v Hobbs. Since Jackson had already lost his appeal, yet the Supreme Court gave Mr. Jackson the benefit of the ruling, a very good argument exists that Miller is fully retroactive. The Carp pleadings are available here.

SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments on Life for Juveniles

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Graham v. Florida, No. 08-7412 and Sullivan v. Florida, 08-7621. In both cases, the Court juvenile offenders were given non-parolable life sentences. Several years ago, the high court struck down the death penalty for juvenile offenders taking notice of cognitive development and the fact that juveniles brains are not fully developed at the time. They neither fully appreciate the consequences of their actions or are as set in their ways as their adult counterparts.According to SCOTUS blog, the oral arguments look promising. Chief Justice Roberts took the lead in arguing that the sanction was too harsh. Stay tuned.